Clark: Funny thing about fall TV this season

September 12, 2013 

It’s mid-September, football season (gloriously) has kicked off and the kids are completely immersed in the new school year. The only thing we need now to get that fall feeling is a fresh slate of new television shows.

Well, that and temperatures that aren’t in the 90s or higher. But that’s not really an option in the Valley this time of year, so let’s stick with the new fall TV season.

It’s been hard the past several years to get excited about fall broadcast TV. Cable has taken a lot of the wind out of the Big Four network sails. But there are usually at least a few new offerings that sort of pique the interest.

And the trend continues this coming season. There are a handful of fresh shows that will make the playlist in our house, if only in some (most? all?) cases for an episode or two. Again this season, as often is the case, most sound appealing more for the people starring in them than for the premises of the shows themselves. And, honestly, some of the other shows being trotted out this coming season just sound dreadful.

We’ll have a roundup in Sunday’s LifeStyles section of the new dramas and sitcoms arriving this fall, along with a look at the dates for returning network favorites. Those stories will be from critics who formed their opinions after having the opportunity to view at least one or two episodes. You and I? We’ll have to either take their word for it or watch based solely on our own curiosity.

Unlike the past several seasons, the shows that sound the most promising are almost all sitcoms, a welcome change of pace. Really, don’t most of us have enough drama in out lives? Bring on some humor.

Here are five shows that sound like they’re worth adding to your viewing schedule:

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”: Andy Samberg – he of “Saturday Night Live” fame, along with those hysterical Lonely Island videos – stars in a “Barney Miller”-esque sitcom about New York City detectives and the hijinks that ensue in the squad room. Samberg’s enough to get me tuning into this show, but the icing on the cake is Andre Braugher, who plays his straight-man boss. I’ve loved Braugher since his “Homicide: Life on the Street” days and still bemoan that “Men of a Certain Age” was canceled, but his attempt to get back into weekly TV last fall, the drama “Last Resort,” was so muddled, I ditched it one episode in. Here’s hoping he and Samberg have sea legs with this one. Premieres Sept. 17 on Fox.

“The Michael J. Fox Show”: Well, really, how do you not give this one a chance? Michael J. Fox was a sitcom favorite before Parkinson’s disease interrupted his stellar career. He’s made some stunning guest appearances on a number of shows, including dramas, and now returns with this comedy in which he’ll play a New York City news anchor who returns to work while battling Parkinson’s. Icing on the cake, part II: Charles Grodin and Candice Bergen will play his parents. Premieres Sept. 26 on NBC.

“The Millers” – Will Arnett has been on my radar since “Arrested Development.” He also was great in “Up All Night” and in a recurring role on “30 Rock.” Add in Margo Martindale (still can’t forget her amazing stint on “Justified”) and Beau Bridges, and you kind of have to give “The Millers” a shot. This comedy has Arnett as a recently divorced news reporter (news folk seem to be the characters du jour this season, eh?) whose parents (Martindale and Bridges) also are separating. Oct. 3 on CBS.

“The Crazy Ones” – Again, it’s all about the star. In this case, Robin Williams. The actor formerly known as Mork returns to TV as an ad man who works with his daughter, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, and his son, played by James Wolk (the guy who played Bob Benson on “Mad Men”). It’s called “Crazy” from the get-go and has Williams as the lead, so let’s hope for a little clever zaniness. Sept. 26 on CBS.

“Hostages” – Here’s the token drama on the list. Toni Collette plays a doctor who, with her family, is held hostage by a character played by Dylan McDermott. He wants her to kill the president. The promos look good and Tate Donovan also is in the cast. And the fact that it’s supposed to be a limited-run series makes it more appealing. Really, how long can they string out a hostage situation like that past a single season? Or for an entire season, for that matter? Sept. 23 on CBS.

Back in the “Race”

On the subject of the new fall season, there is, yet again, a local connection to the upcoming run of “The Amazing Race.” You might have seen the story last week in The Bee about former Turlocker Allison “Ally” Mello, who will compete on the competition/reality show when it returns Sept.29.

Mello takes over the local-connection “Amazing Race” reins from former Modestan Meghan Camerena, who competed this past spring on the show and made it to the late rounds. Both Mello and Camerena now live in Los Angeles.

Mello, age 23 and a 2008 graduate of Pitman High School, and her partner, Ashley Covert, 25, will be among 11 teams vying for a $1million prize while globetrotting and completing all sorts of sometimes goofy, sometimes harrowing challenges each week on “The Amazing Race.”

Looks like I’ll be tuning in again this season and rooting for the local gal.

Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at pclark@modbee.com.

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